He’d been strong and popular in a way—loud, jovial, the life of the party. But as thin as paint when it mattered. Felicia’s illness had been the final straw. She hadn’t seen it coming and it was like the dud prize on the lucky wheel that she’d been with him when it was diagnosed. He lasted two weeks, trying to work out what it was he should be doing for her. Then he went on a bender. Finished up in Sydney. It was the sort of thing he did all the time. But this time when he got back there was no one waiting to hear his stories. No one to laugh with him and slap his back.

He took flowers to the hospital. Her sister took them from him. “No you can’t see her. I’ll let her know you’re OK.” After that he’d gone to his mother’s for advice but she’d simply shaken her head. He realised he was lonely and started counting back the women, good women many of them, who had wasted their time on him. Suddenly forty seemed far too late to start growing up.